Conquering Gum Disease – 4 Easy Steps to a Healthy Mouth
If you have gum disease, also referred to as gingivitis or periodontal disease, you are not alone. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost half of Americans 30 years-old or older have gum disease. If you are over 65, your risk for gum disease is even higher, over 70%. At the same time, symptoms of gum disease should not be ignored. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to your overall health.
Gum Disease Is More Serious Than You Think
Most people relate gum disease with tooth loss, but, as serious as that is, it isn’t the only consequence of gum disease. Gum disease has been linked to the progression of other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. Inflammation in your gums, just like inflammation elsewhere in your body, causes your body to work harder to maintain your health.
Tooth loss, which can result from gum disease, affects a person beyond the loss of a chewing surface. Tooth loss can also lead to bone loss in your jaw and changes to the positioning of your remaining teeth. Tooth and bone loss in the jaw can also affect the shape of your facial features, causing your cheeks to seem sunken or give a more aged appearance than your actual years.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Proper care of your teeth and gums is important for preventing gum disease, but there can be other contributing factors. Changes in hormone levels in women through pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives can increase the risk of gum disease. Diseases like diabetes and some auto-immune diseases can also affect your gum health. Crooked teeth or poorly fitted dental bridges can make teeth harder to clean, causing a buildup of bacteria in your mouth. Smoking, stress, dry mouth, your diet and heredity can all contribute to periodontal disease.
In basic terms, gum disease starts with inflammation, which can be caused by one or more of the conditions listed. If left untreated, that inflammation can grow, threatening not just your gums, but your teeth, heart and other aspects of your overall health.
4 Easy Steps to a Healthy Mouth
The good news about gum disease is that there are ways to lower your risk of developing gum disease and effective means of treating it once it starts. Follow these steps to keep your gums and mouth healthy.
1. Prevention of Gum Disease
Consistent and proper oral health care is the first step in preventing gum disease. This includes brushing and flossing daily, but it also includes professional teeth cleanings and regular visits to your dentist. If you smoke, this is another good reason to stop.
2. Recognize the Signs of Gum Disease
Being aware of the signs and symptoms of gum disease can help you to correct it in its early stages. If you experience any of these gum disease symptoms, you may need to seek treatment:
- Red, swollen gums or tender spots
- Gums that bleed when brushing, flossing or eating
- Constant bad breath
- Gums receding from teeth
- Partial dentures or bridge not fitting properly
3. Seek Professional Advice
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gum disease, it is important to visit a dental office for an evaluation and proper diagnosis. When gum disease is diagnosed in the early stages, it can often be reversed with prescribed hygiene care and dental cleaning. More advanced stages of periodontal disease will require more intensive treatment to restore health to the diseased tissue of your gums.
4. Commit to Your Treatment Plan
Good advice must be followed in order to experience the benefit. Your dentist will make recommendations for a treatment plan that may include both home care and professional cleaning and treatments at your dental office. It is always important to follow through on the recommended treatment plan to reverse gum disease and to prevent it from returning.
Gum disease is a common, but serious threat to your health if ignored. Ignoring the symptoms will not make it go away. Visit your dentist and learn about your treatment options. It may be simpler to restore your oral health than you think!